Nestling amidst the ancient verdant mountainous landscapes of the Serra de Tramuntana in northwestern Majorca is the beautiful and tranquil monastery, the Santuari de Lluc. Founded in the 13th century on the site where a mysterious statue of the Virgin Mary was discovered by a shepherd boy, it has for centuries been the most important pilgrimage site on the island, and still today welcomes world-weary travellers into its calm embrace. Its many rooms and suites are pleasant and delight in glorious mountain views, or overlook the beautiful central courtyard of the monastery. If you are of a mind to extend your Majorcan holiday for an extra night, perhaps to recover from (hopefully not to repent of!) the sybaritic luxury of your week or two at Dominique’s Villas Majorcan villa, the Sanctuary of Lluc will offer a quiet and tranquillity scarcely to be imagined.
Even for a day visit, there is plenty to enjoy at Lluc. The fine Renaissance church, built between 1622 and 1691, has an impressive façade and was extensively remodelled in the early 20th century by Antoni Gaudí. Here the famed 40-strong children’s choir Els Blauets, established in 1531 and named after their traditional blue cassocks, perform regular concerts of devotional music and masses. The Santuari Museum, inaugurated in 1952, occupies two main floors and contains interesting archaeological collections including Roman remains, as well as gifts offered by centuries of pilgrims from far and wide. A Majorcan Room displays what would have been the bedroom of a wealthy family home, with the finest costumes and furniture, and there is a wonderful display of textiles and a beautiful collection of ceramics, mostly from Catalonia, the Balearics, and Aragon.
The Botanical Garden was established in 1956, and features over 200 species of plants indigenous to the Balearic Islands, and was recently expanded to include a wealth of medicinal and aromatic plants as well as an Arboretum dedicated to trees of the Iberian peninnsula. The Hill of the Rosaries, a central focus of the Sanctuary’s devotional life, is a stone path leading up to the hilltop where, according to the tradition, the statue was found. It is lined with beautifully carved stone monuments with fine bronze reliefs depicting religious themes, which were executed by several of Majorca’s most famous artists under the supervision of Gaudí. There are beautiful views from the top over the often snow-capped mountainous vistas, and over the Sanctuary.
There are several good restaurants within the Sanctuary specializing in traditional Majorcan cuisine, especially lamb, and a pleasant café in the Plaça dels Pelegrins for a beer and a pa ambo li (olive oil and tomato on bread, an unbeatable combination). The surrounding countryside is riddled with walking and cycling trails leading through the many mountains and dry river-beds in the area, and you can walk at least part-way along the ancient trails that have seen centuries of pilgrims from Inca and Pollença making their devout way to the Sanctuary.